What is Alzheimer’s disease?
Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative disease of the brain that causes dementia- a gradual loss of memory, judgment, and ability to function. The disorder usually appears in people age 65+, but less common forms of the disease appear earlier in adulthood.
Memory loss is the most common indicator of Alzheimer’s disease. Forgetfulness may seem subtle at first, but problems with memory worsen over time until it interferes with many aspects of daily living. Someone with Alzheimer’s may experience:
- Getting lost, even in familiar settings/territory
- Difficulty with previously routine tasks (e.g. cooking, doing laundry)
- Worsening ability to recognize people and name objects
- Increasing need for assistance with things like dressing, eating, and personal hygiene
Changes in personality and behavior occurs in some people as the disorder continues to progress, affecting their ability to interact with others in a socially appropriate manner.
Other common symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease include:
- Loss of language skills
Total care is usually required during the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s.
Affected individuals usually survive 8 to 10 years after the initial appearance of symptoms, but the course of the disease ranges from 1-25 years. Common causes of death are pneumonia, malnutrition, and general body wasting (inanition).
Alzheimer’s disease can be classified as either early-onset or late-onset. Signs and symptoms of the early form occur before the age of 65, while those of the late form appear after the age of 65. Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease is rare in comparison to the late form, accounting for less than 5% of all cases.
ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE BY THE NUMBERS
The number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s is growing fast. An estimated 5.5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease.
- Worldwide nearly 44 million people have Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia.
- Every 66 seconds, someone in the US develops the disease.
- Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in the US. Between 2000 and 2014, deaths increased by 89%.
- Among people age 70+, 61% of those with Alzheimer’s are expected to die before age 80.
- More than 15 million Americans provide unpaid care for people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.
- "Alzheimer's Disease." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 05 Mar. 2015. Web. 18 Apr. 2017.
- "Alzheimer's Disease Fact Sheet." National Institutes of Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, n.d. Web. 18 Apr. 2017.
- "Latest Alzheimer's Facts and Figures." Latest Facts & Figures Report | Alzheimer's Association. N.p., 29 Mar. 2016. Web. 19 Apr. 2017.